The Dallas Mavericks are the defending NBA Champions, and they currently sit with a record of 34-26. That is good enough to be positioned with the sixth seed out West right now, but also only 2 1/2 games ahead of the hard-charging Suns who occupy the ninth spot. The Maverick players are saying their goal is to repeat at the moment, and I am sure they want too, but it is hard to argue that the organization is totally committed to the idea this season.
If they were looking to win right now, they probably do not let half of their title team from a year ago leave via free agency this summer. They also probably do not let the other half that did stay play out the remainder of the year without any long-term security. But that is the situation right now in Dallas, with the postseason looming, and we will see what happens from here.
Dallas officials didn’t re-sign starting center Tyson Chandler, starting guard DeShawn Stevenson and reserve guard J.J. Barea in the offseason, allowing the franchise to maintain financial flexibility for this summer when New Jersey Nets All-Star Deron Williams, a Dallas native, can become a free agent. All-Star center Dwight Howard also looked like he would be available until he opted at the trade deadline to stay another season with the Orlando Magic.
Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Delonte West, Kelenna Azubuike, Vince Carter, Brandan Wright, Yi Jianlian, Brian Cardinal and Ian Mahinmi could all become free agents for the Mavericks this summer. Terry said the uncertain future has weighed on the players.
“I go out there every day with that on my mind,” Terry said. “It’s reality. I could possibly not be in this uniform next year. It affects a lot of us.
“Over 50 percent of our team will be [free agents] next year. It’s tough.”
And that doesn’t include Lamar Odom, who is already gone from the team and will likely be traded or bought out this summer. The Mavs had high hopes for Odom after acquiring him from the Los Angeles Lakers for an $8.9 million trade exception and a protected first-round pick. But Odom reported to the Mavericks in poor shape, struggled on the court and never adjusted. He took a leave of absence midway through the season, but his play never improved after he returned to the team.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban chided Odom for his listless play at halftime of a game this month, and the two decided it would be best to part ways.
The Mavericks are by no means tanking this year, but what they are doing is kind of along that same thread I think. They are waiting on Dwight Howard and Deron Williams before they make any other type of long-term moves, and playing out the string as best they can from there.
They still have Dirk on that string though, so they should not be counted out of any playoff series, but it would be interesting to see how much better they would be though if they really were focused on repeating this season. As opposed to just wanting too a little bit since they are there.